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Water rates expected to go up for residents in 2019

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published August 14, 2018

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Macomb Township residents should expect an increase in water rates next year as the township itself is anticipating a double-digit increase in rates from the Great Lakes Water Authority.

During contract discussions with the GLWA, Township Engineer Jim Van Tiflin said it was determined that the average daily water demand by the township has gone down over the past five years, but residents and the township are using more water during the peak period, which is between 6 a.m. and midnight.

Van Tiflin said it is a direct result of water irrigation and that residents are not always watering overnight per township ordinance. Because of this, Van Tiflin said he is expecting a double-digit water rate increase next year that will be in place for four years.

Without a specific rate, Van Tiflin said he is not sure how that will translate to residents and that it may not be a one-to-one situation and it could be a high single-digit increase for residents. But, he did say that the water rates aren’t only for water, with capital improvements that need to be made to the system also part of the rate.

“Even though we are growing, we are using less water on a daily basis,” Van Tiflin said. “That would normally mean rates would go down, but unfortunately our peak hours have gone up quite a bit. And that number is probably the biggest driver in how much we pay for our water.

“We are using less water, but we are using it at the wrong time.”

Van Tiflin said the township ordinance states that residents can use all the water they want from midnight to 6 a.m., but they should turn it off after 6 a.m. It also has a mandatory even and odd situation where odd-numbered addresses should water on odd calendar days and vice versa for even-numbered addresses.

There are exceptions for new residents who are planting and sodding a new yard, as they can get a 21-day exception to water during daylight hours. Still, the township ask they don’t water first thing in the morning as that is when the community is waking up and showering to get ready for the day, which Van Tiflin said is when the township water usage tends to peak.

Van Tiflin also added that the township will work with any resident or business owner if they need special permissions.

While the ordinance information is online and on every water bill, Van Tiflin said there are still a lot of residents who aren’t aware and it is now about educating the community to get the usage rates during peak hours down.

“We try our best to reinforce these rules and if a resident sees something, they can call us and we will put a door hanger on a house and talk to the resident about what we are trying to accomplish,” Van Tiflin said. “This is not the government trying to keep people from doing certain things, but it is for the greater good to try and keep water rates low for everybody.”

Trustee Tim Bussineau said he has talked to neighbors who are aware of the odd and even stipulation, but not the time restraints. Educating the residents should be a priority now, he said.

“The education piece is important,” Bussineau said. “There are many that may know both pieces, but many that probably do not. We need to get this out to the people.”

The goal, Van Tiflin said, is to lower the usage over the next four years and then negotiate and get the rate lowered then. He said he expects the final figures to be to the township by late winter or early spring.

With an expected rate increase, Trustee Roger Krzeminski said it is not a cost the township can absorb, so it must be passed on in some manner to the residents.

“We have been telling you for years what is causing this, and it is the peak time, so there is nothing we can do about it,” Krzeminski said. “We have to pass it on, we can’t eat that. That is the problem.”